A few years ago, Memorial Health System’s June Chan sat down with some children who’d recently been in the hospital to ask what kind of hospital they’d like to visit.
Suggestions ranged from a warm, friendly atmosphere to an environment where children had the control.
“And one suggestion was that the doctors dress in costume,” Chan said. “We stopped before we got there, but we were striving to create a warm, welcoming, healing environment. And I think we achieved it.”
With the opening of its new space earlier this month, Memorial incorporated the kids’ suggestions in the new Children’s Hospital.
“We included a grand piano in the lobby,” Chan said. “And we don’t rope it off — kids can use it anytime they want. We have only one chance, usually, to touch a child’s life when they’re in the hospital, so we want to make that experience a positive one.”
The new hospital doesn’t add any additional services, and only slightly increases the beds in the pediatric wing. Mostly, it gives the patients and hospital staff more room and updated equipment.
The hospital features soft pastel murals that serve as a way to find different areas of the hospitals — art that is designed to educate and to soothe, Chan said.
During an open house earlier this month, child visitors were so excited by the new facility that several asked Chan: “How do we get checked into this hospital?”
The new hospital features private rooms — before it was completed, pediatric patients were in shared rooms — Southern Colorado’s only neonatal intensive care unit and a pediatric intensive care unit.
The hospital also caters to families: parents and siblings have a special Ronald McDonald room to retreat from the stress and pressures of having a sick child in the hospital.
“It’s the only Ronald McDonald room in the state,” Chan said. “It has washer and dryers, a big-screen television, a kitchen. It’s a place to go where they can still be near their child — but can have a little bit of a break.”
Memorial is partnering with Denver Children’s Hospital — a move that allows for “shared risk,” Chan said.
“We have a joint board of directors that make the decisions for the children’s hospital,” she said. “So that means shared profits, shared losses, shared risks.”
The Denver hospital also provided funds for some of the medical equipment, but not for construction of the new building. Any items that are portable must be approved by the joint board, Chan said.
The departments started moving from the main building earlier in December. Hospital spokesman Chris Valentine said the hospital has set up a committee to determine how to best use the space vacated by the children’s and maternity ward.
“We’re taking requests now,” he said. “Then the committee will decide how to best use the space.”
Memorial will then renovate the space — putting in new carpet, moldings and painting the walls.
“It’s going to come from a different budget,” he said. “We have some money set aside for the renovations in the 2008 budget.”